As central oversight lessens, neighbors take resilience into their own hands

The need for continuous hydrological data is growing, while the ability of government agencies to collect and interpret these data is flat or declining.

Photo from Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 111, full citation below *

The responsibility for groundwater resource management is shifting from governments to citizens

Recent legislation and legal rulings on groundwater use in Wisconsin have continued the trend toward less state-level regulation and oversight. If groundwater use and resource stewardship is to become increasingly a local responsibility, improving the effectiveness of management will require that neighbors and communities pool resources to ensure that “much is known by many”. In the context of groundwater, “much” describes information that is dense, accurate, and objective, and “many” describes all affected stakeholders. Historically, the data available for groundwater assessment and management would best be described as “little is known by few”. In this case, the amount of data is “little” (or modest) because of the cost of institutional data gathering by the “few”, those being the centralized government agencies who have had responsibility for collecting and interpreting groundwater data.

Contributors of water data

Ideally, every stakeholder contributes to the knowledge that supports science-based water resource management. Data collected by community volunteers and local organizations (often called citizen science) are essential because they often fill gaps in institutional data to paint a more complete picture of a dynamic groundwater resource. In addition, citizen science can play a critical role in the management of groundwater resources and become the foundation for education and engagement of local communities most affected by changes to their groundwater resource. The interest of these communities in having a voice in local management of groundwater has grown substantially over recent years.

Leveraging community-level data collection and engagement

Lacking until now has been a way to apply the skills and enthusiasm of citizen scientists to the collection of groundwater-level data for understanding the dynamics of local groundwater resources. Opportunities to access non-pumping monitoring wells are generally limited and measuring the depth to water in pumping wells (residential and farm) is difficult. The best attributes of citizen science will be enhanced by enabling communities to collect groundwater-level data that are accurate, consistent, continuous, and that can be easily shared in real-time with the entire community.

Wellntel provides the solution for communities and other stakeholders to work together with their citizen scientists to collect high-quality data in pumping and non-pumping wells with greater spatial and temporal density, and at much lower cost than traditional methods. Wellntel systems consist of a simple, easy-to-install groundwater-level sensor, a receiver plugged into a router in a nearby building that will push data to the internet, cloud-based computational processing, and real-time presentation of hydrographs. A system deployed on a private well provides that owner with important operational data, such as pumping water levels in relation to pump depth or the effect of pumping by neighboring wells. Systems deployed across a number of private wells can be considered in aggregate, creating a new network or augmenting an existing monitoring network with geo-spatially- and temporally-dense datasets.

Wellntel systems have been proven to provide accurate and objective groundwater-level data on a platform that is as easily used by citizen scientists as by professional scientists.

Wellntel fills a critical gap in meeting the growing need for continuous groundwater data

As stewardship of local groundwater resources falls more on local organizations and community volunteers, collecting data that are dense and accurate, as well as relatively budget friendly, is increasingly essential. With Wellntel, municipalities, communities, and the broader scientific community can for the first time join together to provide the “continuity of observations” that focuses directly on their most critical groundwater resource concerns. A network of Wellntel systems deployed on public and private wells will provide time-series data that are critical for broadly visualizing and managing local groundwater resources, and making local sense of regional trends. This new opportunity to create community groundwater networks moves us all toward the goal that “much is known by many”, a requirement for effective resource management.

 

  • Bradbury, K.R., Fienen, M.N., Kniffin, M.L., Krause, J.J., Westenbroek, S.M., Leaf, A.T., and Barlow, P.M., 2017, Groundwater flow model for the Little Plover River basin in Wisconsin’s Central Sands: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 111, 82 p.

 

 

Wellntel data confirm satellite-based groundwater trends

Providing networked data at the level needed to make informed decisions, take action, and manage local groundwater resources

This colorful map, developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, provides an important view of the extent and level of drought and wetness in shallow aquifers across the United States. These regional conditions vary seasonally and in response to changing weather and climate, and are an important context for local changes to shallow groundwater. The value of local time-series data collected by networks of Wellntel systems is increased by the the understanding of regional and historical variations as presented by this map.

Groundwater Drought/Wetness Percentiles, February 13, 2017 (NASA)

Groundwater Drought/Wetness Percentiles, February 13, 2017 (NASA)


The baseline against which the drought and wetness levels of February 13, 2017 are assigned is the range and average of historical conditions experienced over the period 1948-2009. This map, a new version of which is produced weekly, is based on the integration of GRACE terrestrial water storage observations and other data within a numerical model of land surface water and energy processes. A useful description of the science behind the development of high resolution GRACE-based Drought/Wetness Maps is provided by Matt Rodell and others at the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This and other maps presenting drought data are available at the National Drought Mitigation Center website

 


The map presents in white, areas of shallow groundwater that are currently (map date) experiencing near average conditions of drought/wetness. Specifically, the white areas are within 20% of the mean of the historical drought/wetness range – meaning percentiles ranging from 30% to 70% of the range.

 


Areas of warm colors on the map indicate that drought conditions (low wetness) currently exist relative to the historical range and mean. For instance, areas of the US covered by the orange color are experiencing shallow groundwater conditions that are drier than 90% of the historical record. The areas covered by the brown color are currently experiencing low wetness that is more extreme and rare, having been experienced only about 2% of time during the 62 year historical period.

 


Areas of cool colors on the map indicate that higher wetness conditions currently exist relative to the historical range and mean. For instance, areas of the US covered by the lightest blue color are experiencing shallow groundwater conditions that are wetter than 70% of the historical record. The areas covered by the darkest blue color are currently experiencing wetness that is more extreme and rare, having been experienced only about 2% of time during the 62 year historical period.

Regional and historic data such as illustrated by these GRACE-based maps provide an invaluable context for assessing and implementing local water-management choices. The GRACE-based maps present data at the scale of 1/8 of a degree, and the maps are expected to be “reasonably well correlated with measured water table variations over spatial scales of 25 km (16 miles) or more“. A community-based groundwater network will provide stakeholders with information at a much greater resolution, limited only by the spatial density of available wells.

The following hydrograph of data collected by a Wellntel system shows the changes experienced in the Central Coast of California, near Paso Robles. In this single-well example, the Wellntel data show the local manifestation of the regional changes presented by the GRACE maps. Specifically, the hydrograph shows the transition from drought conditions in the Paso Robles area presented by the November 21, 2016 map (below), to the wetter conditions of the February 13, 2017 map (top). The hydrograph shows a rise in water level of about 45 feet over this period. A network of wells providing temporal data with this density, would be exceptionally useful in addressing important local water management challenges.

Water levels measured by Wellntel System in California well, 2016/2017

Water levels measured by Wellntel System in California well, 2016/2017

 

Groundwater Drought/Wetness Percentiles, November 21, 2016 (NASA)

Groundwater Drought/Wetness Percentiles, November 21, 2016 (NASA)

 

Sponsoring a network of Wellntel systems deployed on a mix of monitoring stations and volunteer wells will provide local time-series data that are critical for broadly visualizing and managing your groundwater resource, and making local sense of regional trends. Let Wellntel work with you to create a network of private and public wells to deliver high-density data via the web at a cost substantially less than previous technology and approaches. The most important outcome of a sponsored network may be engaging the primary stakeholders – well owners and the community – to become their own best advocates to understand, manage, and protect their shared resource.

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“In a nonstationary world, continuity of observations is critical”*

Groundwater isn’t static anymore…

It is true that groundwater as a natural resource has never been truly static, in the sense that it is constantly moving from points of recharge to points of natural discharge. All components of the hydrological cycle, including groundwater, move continually in response to large-scale physical drivers and the energy dynamics of phase changes.

However, these physical drivers have increasingly been altered as a result of climate change. As presented in the POLICY FORUM of the periodical Science, a column titled Stationarity is Dead: Whither Water Management* states “climate change undermines a basic assumption that historically has facilitated management of water supplies, demands, and risks.”

….in that the foundational assumption of hydrologic stationarity is no longer valid.

Climate change undermines the foundational assumption of stationarity. Simply, stationarity is the premise that measurable processes of natural systems vary in predictable ways, within unchanging bounds of variability. The column further states “Stationarity is dead because substantial anthropogenic change of Earth’s climate is altering the means and extremes of precipitation, evapotranspiration, and rates of discharge of rivers.”*

Visualization of a very wavy Northern Hemisphere jet stream. (NASA)

Visualization of a very wavy Northern Hemisphere jet stream. (NASA)

All hydrological sciences have been built around the assumption of stationarity, as have the practical applications of water management and engineering. The effect of global climate change on the probability of hydrologic events and the traditional practice of water science is a profound complication.

Understanding local hydrology and groundwater resources requires, more than ever before, the collection of local, continuous hydrologic data.

As stated in the Science column “In a nonstationary world, continuity of observations is critical.”* This argues that greater temporal and spatial density of data are required to build the hydrologic understanding to meet local and regional groundwater challenges.

How this affects you.

The need for continuous hydrological data is increasing, while the ability of government agencies to collect and interpret these data is flat or declining. Even when funds for science are more readily available, state and federal agencies can not collect data at a pace and in enough places to address issues most important to local communities. Fortunately, municipalities, communities, and other stakeholders can now join together as SPONSORS and MEMBERS to create powerful networks of Wellntel systems to provide the “continuity of observations” that focuses directly on their most critical groundwater resource concerns.

*Milly and others, Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?, Science  01 Feb 2008: Vol. 319, Issue 5863, pp. 573-574.

Wellntel Announces New Groundwater Data Services, Capabilities, and Pricing for Network Sponsors

Milwaukee, WI — May 11, 2017 — Wellntel, Inc. (https://www.wellntel.com).

As water and resource agencies around the United State embrace Wellntel as a platform for creating Community Groundwater Networks, Wellntel is unveiling a new suite of groundwater-level data services designed to accelerate network expansion, data analysis, and fact-based outcomes and actions.

Conventionally, groundwater data have been collected and processed manually. Wellntel sponsors are finding that with Wellntel, collection can be automated using the built-in telemetry and Cloud. Once in the Cloud, Wellntel’s new Data Services – included as part of every Sponsor Network – improve and streamline the analytical tasks, data management and communication of groundwater facts to meet sponsor goals.

The benefits of becoming a Wellntel sponsor – and of Wellntel’s Data Services –  accrue immediately. The Wellntel team works in partnership with sponsors to plan and train for the deployment of the network and also supports with the basics of volunteer member recruitment including legal templates, well specifications for ideal candidates, and best practices developed by current Wellntel sponsors.

Then, as data are being collected, Wellntel helps sponsors get the most from their networks. For example, a county or state agency that sponsors a Community Groundwater Network may want to port data from the entire network into monthly or weekly reports, into hydrologic models, or to a public website (depending on sponsor sharing agreements). Wellntel Sponsor Data Services streamline this work.

Sponsor Data Services include, but are not limited to:

  • Well suitability and site planning assistance
  • Software tools and support for remote commissioning and calibration
  • Application and program best practices
  • Unlimited data storage, back-ups and VM redundancy (mirrored DBs geographically dispersed)
  • Unlimited users associated with member and sponsor accounts
  • Quality control on aggregated data for models and feeds
  • Boilerplate agreements
  • Discounts on orders of 5 units or more.

The price of each sponsored Wellntel system includes hardware and a 3-year data subscription. Read more about plans and pricing here.

Organization and persons interested in learning more about Wellntel’s Community Groundwater Networks, in sponsoring their own networks, or in Wellntel technology, are invited to sign up for an online Webinar, or can contact Chuck Dunning PhD, Wellntel’s Vice President of Business Development at cpdunning@wellntel.com or 844-935-5426.

Fast Company: Wellntel among 50 projects Really Making America Great Again

Fast Company Image

Wellntel is thrilled to have made Fast Company’s 2017 list of top innovators. The project looks for stand-out projects in each of the 50 states. Wellntel proudly represents Wisconsin.

Read more about the honor, and other recipients, here. https://www.fastcompany.com/40401141/announcing-the-united-states-of-innovation-2017

Wellntel Appoints New VP Business Development

Groundwater technology leader strengthens commercial team

Milwaukee, WI — April 3, 2017 — Wellntel, Inc. (https://www.wellntel.com) announced today that Charles “Chuck” P. Dunning, PhD, has joined the company as its new Vice President of Business Development, with the goal of growing the Wellntel network with new local, state and national groundwater research and monitoring customers and sponsors. Chuck Dunning comes with a wealth of groundwater monitoring and management experience, having spent 21 years at the USGS (United States Geological Survey) Wisconsin Water Science Center where he directed groundwater research priorities, strategic planning, community engagement and program development. At Wellntel, Chuck will bring new technology and opportunity to agencies who monitor groundwater today, as well as to customers and communities who were unable to see their groundwater before.

Chuck will build on Wellntel’s success helping groundwater professionals and concerned citizens across the US implement monitoring networks and manage their groundwater resources. Chuck said, “I am excited to join Wellntel at this pivotal stage of the company’s growth and look forward to bringing an in-the-trenches water resource perspective to benefit the company’s development and expansion of products and customers.”

Nick Hayes, Co-founder and CTO, said, “Chuck’s wealth of experience and groundwater science knowledge make him a key addition to the Wellntel team. Our drive to bring new capabilities and insight to our customers led us to look for an addition to the team who brought not only technical monitoring skills, but a track record of using science and data to take local action.”

Marian Singer, Co-founder and CEO added “We’re fortunate to have found someone of Chuck’s caliber to fill this role. His technical and scientific understanding will help Wellntel bring innovation and exceptional customer service to new customers across the US and into new international markets.”

About Wellntel

Wellntel (https://www.wellntel.com) is the first-ever groundwater information system for scientists, community leaders, homeowners and farmers. With simple sensors and data in the cloud, Wellntel enables new understanding and sharing of groundwater facts, helping communities and individuals better manage their groundwater resources.

Contact
Marian Singer, Co-founder
414-416-6281
mjsinger@wellntel.com

Media:

Chuck Dunning

Rainfall impacting groundwater levels in Central California

Wellntel owners in central California are tracking the impacts of heavy rainfalls on groundwater levels in their wells.

In a dramatic weather turn, the skies have opened up over an area that has suffered many months of drought. In Paso Robles, for example, there has been a total of seventeen inches of rainfall since October, with eleven of it falling in the last three weeks.

The land appears to be welcoming the water. Wellntel systems are reporting dramatic changes in groundwater levels in wells. This monthly comparison of total rainfall verses average measured distance to water in a well monitored by Wellntel shows the connection:

Wellntel: Rainfall vs groundwater level

What is a Community Wellntel Groundwater Network?

You may have seen a tweet or a post about Wellntel Community Groundwater Networks, as opposed to just singular groundwater sensors. Wellntel networks are arrays of sensors in which the data from a few or many sensors can be assembled to answer questions about connections between supply and demand in an area or evaluate risk or opportunity. Groundwater scientists have deployed arrays for many years, but the techniques and technologies traditionally used are expensive to buy and manage and are, therefore, limited in terms of reach and results.

Setting up a Groundwater Network

The opportunity is clear: for the money, a Wellntel network can be much larger and capture more detailed and useful data, but more importantly, via the Wellntel network, the community can collaborate toward widespread, fact-based groundwater understanding to support smart planning, sustainable management, or know when neighbors might need help and what to do.

Most Wellntel systems sold last year are part of such a network. Often,  citizens and community leaders meet to plan the scope and budget of a project, find suitable sites, and agree to cost-sharing, data-sharing and privacy terms that work for all stakeholders. These types of networks are planned or coming online in counties and townships in Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Montana, and other places. Well owners get the vital operational data, and become part of the community conversation and the community is empowered to make development decisions based on facts.

Wellntel Groundwater Network Reveals Winter Recovery

Sample data from a 12-well network showing fall and winter recovery. Information like this is reported to the community on a routine basis.

Existing customers should know that their systems are only part of such a network if they have volunteered or participated in planning, and agreed in advance to be part of it. 

If you value groundwater and think others may too, consider any or all of the following:

  • Talk with neighbors and local leaders about creating a groundwater network in your community. You might start by asking them to join you and attend a Wellntel Webinar on the subject.
  • Existing customers and volunteers can organize potlucks to share what is being learned and spark and grow community networks. If this is somethig you are interested in doing, let us know and we will help plan and provision.
  • Contact us and we will work to help you identify groundwater scientists and advocates near you.

By joining forces with other informed neighbors, you’ll be helping to secure your community’s future.

Wellntel Sponsors – Changing the way we see Groundwater

Coinciding with Groundwater Week 2016, Wellntel Announces “Sponsors” — a program designed to make groundwater facts available everywhere.

Wellntel’s new “Sponsor” program makes large-scale, stakeholder-engaging groundwater monitoring a reality. Sponsoring of Wellntel systems is happening in 25 states already. Today’s announcement formalizes the program and augments the underlying tools and resources that make it possible.

Wellntel Sponsors

Who are Wellntel Sponsors?

People and organizations who see the need to know more about local groundwater water conditions and who work closely with citizens and neighbors to gather and learn from facts and then act to ensure the long term health of their resource.

What do Wellntel Sponsors do?

All over the US, local townships, villages, counties, HOAs, water districts, scientific agencies, land trusts and conservancies are financially supporting dense Wellntel networks that gather and share groundwater level information on a scale not seen before.

Financial support from Sponsors often comes in the form of gifting, rebates or subsidies to deploy and run Wellntel equipment, in return for unencumbered access to the information collected.

Often, an existing budget for limited groundwater data collection can be leveraged into a large scale program.

Sponsors seek local volunteers who provide a monitoring location (in the form of a domestic, irrigation or decommissioned water well) and a voice for the information as it is collected.

Agreements are made to share and discuss what is learned from the data collected both over time and across the region.

Sponsors often recruit volunteer or student-based teams to help with network deployments and data collection when locations are very remote. Local colleges participate by providing student recruits to internships that sometimes lead to staff positions.

How does Wellntel participate?

Wellntel works closely with Sponsors to design programs that will work in their locations, providing, among other things:

  • Boilerplate agreements for recruits and volunteers
  • Application support to pick best monitoring locations
  • Technical support to simplify and speed deployments
  • Data use and analytics support as required

What’s new as of today?

Today, Wellntel is announcing all new web-based capabilities for Sponsors, who now have their own access to geographically-organized Wellntel data via the my.wellntel.com dashboard for the systems they sponsor, along with a wide range of new features:

  • User management: sponsors may have many users. Administrators can create, edit and manage them.
  • Group creation: wells are often organized in categories, like Deep or Shallow. Sponsors can create their own Groups and organize fleets intelligently.
  • Fleet automation: data from sponsored sites are automatically organized on both sponsor and volunteer dashboards in intuitive and useful ways.
  • Stakeholder value-adds: volunteers can see simple data, or can choose comprehensive alerting functions to manage wells and pumping, if preferred.
  • Data exchange: depending on the terms of a local sponsor agreement, a sponsor may invest in custom APIs to link their Wellntel network with other environmental websites and models.
Wellntel Sponsor Screenshot

What hasn’t changed? 

The Wellntel system is:

  • Accurate, reliable and simple to install
  • Flexible: can be used on domestic, small farm, and monitoring wells
  • Communicative: sensors can transmit via Gateway, cellular or can store local data when sites are very remote
  • Remotely manageable: set alerts, time interval, and more from anywhere
  • Available: mobile and web-based interface
  • Secure: end-to-end encrypted, password protect.

It’s the Wellntel Groundwater Information System that you trust but with brand new capabilities to help expand and leverage your groundwater monitoring challenges, and, for the first time, with community and stakeholder engagement.

Call 844-935-5426 or email info@wellntel.com for more information.

Announcing SensorLink: a powerful new PC app to get more from your Wellntel Sensors

Wellntel SensorLink

SensorLink is a PC application intended for use with Wellntel Sensors to enable remote start-up, collection of readings, upload of collected readings to the Wellntel Cloud, local reading collection and well diagnostics.

SensorLink is useful as an alternative to a Wellntel Gateway, when Internet connectivity is not available but a Wellntel Sensor is being used to gather Groundwater level information from a well or a test well. It is also a convenient way to get water, well or sensor information at the wellhead. In this application, a Wellntel owner or sponsor can install a sensor in a remote location, take a few test readings, leave it, return on a schedule to gather data, and upload the data for reporting, archiving and analysis to the Wellntel Cloud. The data will present as if they had been sent via radio telemetry, correctly time stamped, calibrated (after initial calibration period) and affirmed. However, they will only appear online as often as the data are retrieved and uploaded.

What can SensorLink 2.0x do?

  • Download readings from multiple Wellntel sensors not served by Wellntel Gateway.
  • Upload and confirm downloaded readings to the Wellntel Cloud.
  • Collect and present information gathered locally including:
    • Reading date/time (UTC)
    • Depth to water nominees
    • Signal characteristics
    • Temperature
    • Voltage
    • Radio signal strength (if radios are in use)
  • Collect and view well diagnostics information

Only Wellntel customers, dealers and sponsors may download SensorLink. Login to my.wellntel.com to download software and instructions.

SensorLink 2.0.X replaces SensorBuddy V1.0x, which has been discontinued (as of 12-2016) and is not longer supported. Users with SensorBuddy should uninstall SensorBuddy and replace it with SensorLink.

Why Now?

Leading up to the National Groundwater Association’s 2016 Groundwater Week, Wellntel is making a series of important product announcements, starting with the launch of SensorLink 2.0, an all new platform to interface with Wellntel sensors. Follow Wellntel on Twitter to stay abreast of latest Wellntel news.